Stanley Glick, PhD, MD
Glick said 18-MC, which has been shown in the laboratory to block a receptor in the brain leading to reduced drug cravings, could represent a major advance in the fight against addiction. The drug could also combat a debilitating and disfiguring skin disease afflicting millions of people in 88 tropical countries.
“18-MC is likely to be the first of a new generation of agents effective against a broad spectrum of addictions—from hard drugs such as heroin and cocaine, to alcohol, nicotine and even sugary, high-fat foods, possibly reducing obesity rates,” said Glick. “Based on work by Brazilian Collaborators, we’re hopeful that this drug could also provide relief for a completely unrelated disorder, leishmaniasis, that creates painful skin lesions and damages internal organs.”
Toxicology studies now being conducted in several laboratories will establish, within 6 to 10
months, whether 18-MC is safe for human clinical trials in the US. If successful, the studies
could lead to FDA approval of the agent as an addiction treatment.
Meanwhile, early clinical trials in Brazil, focused on 18-MC’s safety and metabolism, are planned to start in 2013. Glick said the results will have to be replicated and confirmed in the United States before the drug can be approved for use in this country. The drug is a synthetic agent (synthesized by Martin Kuehne of the University of Vermont) derived from a naturally occurring substance found in the bark of a West African shrub.